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    TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Here to help you tackle your home improvement projects. So, what’s on your to-do list? What’s on your honey-do list? Let’s get it on the done list. Pick up the phone and call us. We are here to help, 888-666-3974.

    Coming up on this edition of The Money Pit, if spending so much time indoors this winter has left your outdoors, perhaps, a little neglected, we’re going to have some tips on how you can spruce that space up for spring and turn your backyard into a showplace you’ll be proud of. We’ve got expert advice on creating a brick-paver patio, this hour, coming up from Roger Cook, the landscaping contractor on TV’s This Old House.

    LESLIE: And also ahead, spring is the traditional time that home sales start to increase as buyers try to complete a move before the school year starts. I can’t believe we’re already thinking about the school year.

    Well, if you find yourself thinking about selling, we’re going to tell you what you need to do to get your home ready.

    TOM: And since spring is just days away, you’d better start making plans to kick off the big, annual spring cleanup. We’ll have some quick cleaning tips to give you a jumpstart.

    LESLIE: And we’re giving away a Bissell vacuum to one lucky winner. We’ve got up for grabs the Symphony All-in-One Vacuum and Steam Mop, which is going to eliminate the need to sweep before you mop.

    TOM: And it’s a great product to pick up for your spring-cleaning tasks. It’s a prize worth 219 bucks. Going out to one caller drawn at random from those that reach us for today’s show. So let’s get to it. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Dot, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    DOT: A couple of years ago, we had a driveway put in. We have a house with an attached garage. And they had, oh, graded the driveway, they said, properly so the water would drain away from the house and into the lawn. And we get standing water in our driveway still. And I was just wondering the steps to – the proper steps to put a trench in our driveway and possibly a drain.

    TOM: OK. So, it would seem to me that if – you’re talking about water that’s collecting on the driveway itself or on the side of the driveway? There’s a distinction.

    DOT: In the driveway and also close to the house and where the driveway meet. And then there’s an attached garage there, also.

    TOM: If we were to stop the water from collecting on the side of the driveway, would the top of the driveway still be flooded?

    DOT: I think so. Apparently, they graded it …

    TOM: Alright. Because it’s easier to put in a curtain drain along the side of the driveway than it is to slice the driveway and insert a drain. Because if you want to try to drain what’s on the driveway, essentially you have to cut a slice into the driveway. It’s not something that you could do; it requires specialized tools. And then a drain is inserted and it’s kind of like a very narrow grate, almost like a box, that’s dropped into the driveway. The driveway is graded to the top of it so that the water can sort of roll in and then fill up the drain and then run out.

    If, in fact, that this water is collecting along the side of the driveway, it would be easier, from a do-it-yourself perspective, to add in a curtain drain. The way that works is you would dig a trench that was maybe a foot wide, maybe a foot deep. You’d put some stone in the bottom of that and then you’d put a perforated PVC pipe. You continue to fill that up with stone all around it. You’d add some filter cloth over that and then you would regrade and you would be – it would be completely invisible when it’s done. And of course, it has to be pitched properly and discharged properly, as well.

    So, the curtain drain on the side of the driveway is easier than sort of the trench drain where you have to cut the driveway. I would tend to say do the curtain drain first and see how it goes.

    Dot, I hope that helps you out. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Jack in Nebraska is on the line with a flooring question. How can we help you?

    JACK: I want to put in a new floor in my basement. And I – somebody has told me that some of these new engineered-wood products, like the snap-together floors – they said that some of those are OK for a basement application. Now, is there any truth to that?

    TOM: It’s absolutely true. Now, just keep in mind that when it comes to wood flooring, there is prefinished wood flooring, which is solid, and that’s not rated for a basement. And then there is prefinished wood flooring which is engineered.

    Now, engineered flooring is essentially made up of many layers of wood. It’s a bit like plywood in that you have different layers glued together at opposing angles. Except with the engineered-wood flooring, the top layer is hardwood and it looks just like solid hardwood. In fact, once it’s down, you really can’t tell the difference. And because it’s made up of different layers that are glued together at opposing angles, it’s dimensionally stable and it can be exposed to moisture or humidity, like you have in the basement, without swelling and cracking and splitting.

    And so, yes, engineered-wood flooring is a perfect choice for a basement. And if you want another option, you could look at laminate floor, also modular in the sense that it locks together. And laminate flooring comes in many, many, many different types of sizes and shapes and colors. In fact, I saw some reclaimed lumber-looking laminate floor recently at a big trade show that was just spectacular. I mean it really looked like the original wood floor.

    So, lots of options there for basement flooring. Just don’t go with solid.

    JACK: OK. Well, you answered my question. Thank you very much.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Jack. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com.

    Come on, folks, let’s say it together: “A few, short weeks until spring. A few, short weeks until spring.”

    TOM: Yes.

    LESLIE: Let us get this winter behind us. Who else is sick of it? Say yes. Well, whatever you are working on, we want to get you ready for this awesome spring that’s going to be warm and sunny and full of beautiful home improvements. So give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT so we can lend you a hand.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Coming up, you want to sell your home for the best price and with the least amount of hassles, right? Well, to make sure that happens, it takes a little prep and research. We’ll teach you what you need to know, with this week’s Real Estate Tip of the Week, presented by the National Association of Realtors, after this.

    TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Standing by at 1-888-MONEY-PIT to take your phone calls and your questions about your home improvement projects, your décor dilemmas. Give us a call; let us help.

    And one caller who gets on the air with us today is going to win the Symphony All-in-One Vacuum and Steam Mop from Bissell. And what’s so cool about this is it’s actually kind of – I don’t know, Leslie – like two products in one, right?

    LESLIE: Yeah, it’s pretty amazing. Because what the Symphony does is that it vacuums and steams at the same time. So it kind of eliminates that old-school cleaning process of broom and dust pan and then the mop and then the bucket. And what’s awesome is it’s got powerful, cyclonic action, which is going to clean away dry debris, also, which is great. If you’ve got a 15-month-old like I do or just really are a messy person, this is probably the prize for you because the steam will also sanitize. And it’s going to eliminate up to 99.9 percent of germs and bacteria and just truly clean your floors.

    TOM: It’s worth $219. Going out to one lucky caller that we help today. So help yourself first. Pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Now we’re going to Missouri where Tammy is having issues with her new furnace. What’s going on? Let’s talk you through this.

    TAMMY: I replaced the furnace in my mobile home here before the beginning of winter. And since then, I’ve had a buzzing noise in my breaker box every time it kicks on. I would like to say that the furnace that I replaced was about up to my knees. And the newer furnace is about chest-high. Would that have something to do with the pulling of the amps or …?

    TOM: Well, the size of the – physical size of the unit may or may not be related to this. It’s more like how much power is it pulling and how is it wired into the breaker box? But if you’re getting a vibration in the breaker box itself, that’s not a good sign. The breaker could be deteriorating internally and what you’re hearing are the early stages of that or perhaps the advanced stages of that. I don’t know.

    I would tell you that if you’ve got that kind of a signal, I would definitely have it checked out by an electrician and open that panel up, have him pull out those breakers, look behind them. Make sure it’s sized properly. Make sure nothing is over-fused, for example, where the wrong size fuse is being used on a wire and therefore not protecting it from overheating.

    It’s definitely not a good sign and shouldn’t be happening and you need to get it checked out further. OK, Tammy?

    TAMMY: Alright. Thank you.

    TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Lauren from Nebraska on the line. What can we do for you today?

    LAUREN: I live in an area where it’s all – a lot of clay in the soil. And we have a basement underneath of our house. And the walls have moved in a little bit from the pressure of the earth and I notice in the summertime, when it’s very dry, the earth pulls away from the house. And sometimes, it’s like an almost 2-inch gap of air space that – and I’m just wondering, should a guy put something in there when that pulls away or should he just leave it alone?

    TOM: I don’t like to see those big gaps in there. I would be of the mind to tell you to backfill it and add additional soil and tamp it down so that you don’t have those big gaps.

    LAUREN: So that wouldn’t add more pressure when it gets – the soil gets earth – or the earth gets wet and it pushes back in?

    TOM: No. Because I think it’s going to expand equally in all directions. If it’s not pressing on the walls, as it is now, I don’t think it’s going to do that later.

    LAUREN: OK. Well, you’ve answered my question. Thank you very much.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Lauren. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Well, it’s time now for today’s Real Estate Tip of the Week, presented by the National Association of Realtors.

    And today, we’re going to talk about preparing your home for sale in what will be a very competitive and complex market.

    LESLIE: Now, when it comes to selling a home, every owner wants the same, exact thing: they want the best possible deal with the least amount of hassle. It sounds like you’re not asking for too much but selling a home is really more complex than ever, so you’ve got to start planning months before your property even goes on to the market.

    TOM: Now, working with an experienced realtor is the key. They’ll help you look at your home through the eyes of a prospective buyer so you can figure out what needs to be cleaned, painted and repaired. The goal, of course, is to show a home that looks good, maximizes space and attracts as many buyers as possible.

    LESLIE: That’s right. And at the same time, you really want to be careful about over-improving. Now, buyers usually seek the least expensive home in the best neighborhood that they can afford. And then an over-improved home can really put you out of their price range. So sticking to cosmetic improvements that really show off your home’s best assets and reflect the community preferences is the best way that you can go to get the sale.

    TOM: And that’s your Real Estate Tip of the Week, presented by the National Association of Realtors. Are you considering selling your home? Today’s market conditions may mean it’s a good time. Every market’s different, so call a realtor today and visit Realtor.com.

    LESLIE: Jeff in Iowa needs some help with a low-flow showerhead. In true Seinfeld fashion, you’re just not getting a good wash going?

    JEFF: No. No, I’m not. My house is a 1978 ranch. We’ve lived here about 10 years. I’ve always had good water – what I felt was reasonably good water pressure. Still has the original showers and showerheads in it, so I decided to upgrade everything to more eco-friendly stuff. Replaced the toilets, no problem. But the showerheads, I put these low-flow showerheads on and it’s like the water is just barely – I expected some decrease in performance, obviously, but the water is just like falling out of them. It’s not spraying out like I would expect.

    TOM: Is this just happening at one showerhead, Jeff, or is it happening at several showerheads?

    JEFF: Two showerheads.

    TOM: Two showerheads, OK. So, we can rule out any kind of blockage because it wouldn’t be happening to both at the same time.

    Now, what kind of showerheads did you put in there? Can you tell me the brand?

    JEFF: Well, the first one was the home improvement store’s brand showerhead. The second one I’ve got is a Waterpik. It’s not the highest end. And I thought maybe I just went too cheap on the first one, so I went kind of middle-of-the-road. Made it – I didn’t know if I maybe needed to upgrade even more or just go back to the old showerheads.

    TOM: So, when you install a low-flow showerhead and you didn’t have one before, you are correct in that you’re going to get a reduction in the power of the shower that perhaps you were used to.

    Now, there should be an adequate amount of water. And the fact that you’re not feeling that means that maybe you don’t have the right showerhead or there’s something wrong with the installation. I’d like to, for the purpose of this conversation, rule out the installation, rule out any clogging, although that is entirely possible. And you might want to take it off to look behind it to make sure that’s the case.

    But what I would recommend is that you upgrade the showerhead to a name brand like a Moen or perhaps a Delta. Because these guys spend a lot of time and a lot of money engineering their showerheads so that they don’t decrease performance when they save you water. And the other thing to look for is a certification called WaterSense. And it’s sort of like ENERGY STAR for appliances but it’s like measuring water efficiency for faucets and showerheads.

    JEFF: I will definitely give that a try because what I’ve got going on now, it takes me so long to shower and get film and stuff, I might as well use the high-flow and …

    TOM: Not going to work, right? Yeah.

    JEFF: Then in and out, you know? It takes the lumps. So, yeah, it’s not doing the trick. I will look into the more expensive one and see what that does for me.

    TOM: Alright. Yeah, you can always take it back if that doesn’t work. But take a look at the installation first, just to be sure. Make sure you don’t have any plumbing tape that got jammed in there or anything of that nature, OK?

    JEFF: OK. Sounds good. Thanks, guys.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Steven in Georgia on the line who needs some help around the yard. What can we do for you?

    STEVEN: I have moss growing on the side of my – not on the house. On the yard on the side. And it’s starting to creep into my back portion of my yard where I have a pool and Bermuda grass. So I’m trying to kill the moss.

    TOM: OK. So if the moss is in – is it – what is it growing on? Is it growing in the dirt or is it growing on the siding? What’s it growing on?

    STEVEN: Oh, no, no. It’s just on the dirt. There’s hardly any sun on that side so – no, like I said, it’s just around the dirt. There’s not much topsoil. A lot of – it’s rocky soil.

    TOM: So, a couple of ways to go. You could use Roundup on it. But if you use Roundup, whatever Roundup – whatever the Roundup gets on is going to die, OK? So you have to be careful, because you don’t want to overspray it. If it’s in strategic areas, one of the tricks of the trade is you could take a gallon milk jug, cut out the bottom of it; use it kind of like a backwards funnel. You cover the area of moss that you want to hit and then you spray the Roundup into it and it contains the overspray.

    The other thing that you could do is there’s a product called Wet & Forget that’s specifically designed to kill moss and algae and fungus and that sort of thing. That takes longer but it works just as well and it doesn’t harm the grass. Wet & Forget. That’s their website: WetAndForget.com. And it also works well on sidewalks and siding and the roof and that sort of thing.

    STEVEN: Alright. Thank you.

    TOM: So those are your options, Steve. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Leslie in Tennessee – I feel like I’m talking to myself – welcome to The Money Pit. How can we help you?

    LESLIE IN TENNESSEE: Yes. I’m an avid listener of your show. We really love it.

    We have a question. After several years of having an outdoor pool and enjoying it but not being able to use it because of the full four seasons here in East Tennessee, we were wanting to add an addition on the house. And we’d love to put a small indoor pool, just like a little lap pool, only about probably half the size of our outdoor pool. And we were wondering what would be the best type of construction.

    Our house is a frame house with brick but you have moisture problems, I know, with an indoor pool. So, for an addition, I want to see if you all had any recommendations for certain materials or a certain type of system to reduce the moisture in the home or how – what would you do?

    TOM: Well, there are dehumidifiers that are designed for pool rooms. I mean they’re similar to whole-house dehumidifiers, where they take out a lot of water from the air. I would definitely isolate the area where the pool is, from the rest of the house, so that the moisture is contained into one space. And that makes it easier for you to manage that level of moisture. You know, it could maybe just be a sliding glass door or something like that that separates it.

    But in terms of the material, you have to be very careful with the venting. For example, in the roof above, you have to choose materials that are mold-resistant in terms of the surface. For example, instead of using paper-faced drywall, you might use fiberglass-faced drywall. That doesn’t grow mold because it’s not organic. So with a few things like that and the right mechanical system – and the pool manufacturers that you’re talking to, the installers, they’ll be very familiar with this because these pools are being put into inside spaces. You’ve got to deal with the evaporation.

    LESLIE IN TENNESSEE: Alright. Well, that’s helpful there. And so, just – so more or less probably a pool manufacturer or a pool place around here would have that recommendation then.

    TOM: Well, they would. And generally going to probably talk about mechanical dehumidification. And then in terms of the construction of the space, just be mindful to choose materials that are not easily going to grow mold and certainly one that’s – materials that are cleanable, OK?

    LESLIE IN TENNESSEE: That’s great. Well, thank you very much and I appreciate you all being on our radio here in Northeast Tennessee.

    TOM: Alright, Leslie. Thank you so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. And good luck with that project.

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, a paved brick patio can add some great entertaining space to your backyard. And it is a DIY project that can last years if you do it right.

    LESLIE: That’s right. We’re going to get advice from This Old House landscaping contractor Roger Cook on a paver project, after this.

    KEVIN: This is Kevin O’Connor from TV’s This Old House, the longest-running home improvement show. And I want to send out a big congrats to Tom and Leslie for the most downloaded home improvement podcast on iTunes. Well done, guys.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Lutron’s new Maestro Occupancy-Sensing Switch. Never ask “Who left the lights on?” again. Starting at around $20, this motion-sensing light switch turns the lights on automatically when you walk into a room and off when you leave and works with all types of light bulbs. Learn more at LutronSensors.com.

    TOM: Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And on The Money Pit Facebook page at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit, you can enter our brand-new Spring Fling Pin to Win Sweepstakes going on right now.

    LESLIE: That’s right. We’ve got four great tips to help you get started on your spring-cleaning to-do list. I know I have got a lot of spring cleaning. I’m sure you all do, as well. And all you’ve got to do is pin at least one of our tips to your Pinterest board and you’ve got a chance to win one of three gift cards for The Home Depot.

    We’ve got up for grabs a $100 gift card, a $150 gift card and – wait, it gets better – a $250 gift card just waiting for you.

    TOM: It’s all online at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit.

    LESLIE: If you’re aching to get outside to enjoy meals or entertain your friends in your own backyard, building a brick-paver patio is a great place to start.

    TOM: Absolutely. But unfortunately, we get a lot of calls here at The Money Pit about paver patios that were not built right to begin with and have since turned into a saggy, weedy mess. To make sure that doesn’t happen to you, we welcome Roger Cook, the landscaping contractor for TV’s This Old House.

    Welcome, Roger.

    ROGER: Thanks. I just hate a saggy, weedy mess.

    TOM: It’s a very bad thing to have a saggy, weedy mess, especially when it’s your paver patio. And a lot of these are built but they kind of fall apart. I think people concentrate on just the laying of the bricks and not so much on the prep. Is that where it goes wrong?

    ROGER: Yeah, I describe it like a cake. You’ve got the inside and it’s got to taste good because once you get through the frosting on the outside, it’s the whole thing. So the inside is the gravel, the prep and all the work you do and then the icing is either the pavers or the bluestone you put on the outside.

    TOM: Right.

    ROGER: If you put a good bluestone on a bad inside cake – gravel – then it’s all going to separate and fall apart.

    TOM: It’s like painting. People never want to prime; they just want to put the topcoat on and then the paint doesn’t last.

    ROGER: Yeah. It looks good for a little while but it never pays off.

    TOM: Right. Let’s talk about the difference, first, between paver brick and building brick.

    ROGER: Paver bricks all carry a code, which is SW for severe weather.

    TOM: OK.

    ROGER: The building bricks are not made for extreme ground contact; they’re made on one side as basically waterproof so that when you build the – have that side exposed.

    TOM: And they’re also not dimensional. In other words, with the paver brick, you have – one long is equal to two wide with no mortar joint. With building bricks, they’re a little bit less than that because they leave space for the mortar, right?

    ROGER: Exactly. Yep.

    TOM: So it’s a different shape. You can’t really put it together. It’s not quite as easy. And as you say, it’s perhaps a more porous brick; it’s not going to stand up as well.

    ROGER: Right. And we want something that’s easy to work with so that the brick goes into a pattern, something we can make easily without cutting each interval piece or ending up with big gaps. And that’s when you get weeds.

    LESLIE: So, now, exactly – to avoid weeds and to avoid the whole thing sort of becoming misshapen and cracking and rising and falling in different areas, what exactly is the best step-by-step sort of process to make sure that you’re doing it once and you’re doing it right?

    ROGER: It all starts with the excavation and the insertion of your base material. A basic rule of thumb, we say, is to dig down 7 inches. But what I tell people – if you run into clay or you run into more topsoil, dig deeper; it’ll be worth it in the long run.

    Then I like to run a plate compactor over the area to make sure everything’s solid. Then we add pack, which is a combination of three-quarter stone and stone dust mixed together and we start building up in 2-to-3-inch layers and compacting that until we get ready for our final layer, which is usually either sand or stone dust. And then we put the pavers on top of that. So it has a secure base that’s going to move in a minimal amount and your pavers won’t move too much.

    TOM: So that pack at that layer, that really has to be rock-solid before you put the bricks on it. I think people – sometimes they think that still is sort of part of the dirt and can be a little loosey-goosey. But it’s got to be really stiff before they lay bricks on top.

    ROGER: No, it’ll – it’s like you say: after a year or two, all of a sudden everything starts to move.

    TOM: Right.

    ROGER: And that’s the problem, because they just didn’t go deep enough.

    TOM: Now, what about retaining the edges? I’ve got a paver patio that I’ve got to repair this year that’s round on a corner. And the mason, when he put it in, he had sort of a bit of mortar that held that in.

    On those corners, do you recommend the banding or do you recommend something else to kind of keep that corner intact?

    ROGER: If it’s a round corner, it’s really hard to do using the brick.

    TOM: OK.

    ROGER: If they’re on a soldier course or the sailor, turned one way or the other upright, they have a hard time making a corner like that and you leave big gaps behind.

    TOM: Right.

    ROGER: They make steel edging that’s about a ¼-inch thick. And if you wrap that around that edge and use the steel stakes they give you, it’ll hold that corner in place.

    TOM: So use the banding – the premade banding – for those round corners.

    ROGER: Yeah, yeah. Now, one thing to remember is pitch on a patio. It is critical to get that water off the patio. If it sits there and absorbs and makes a puddle, there’s nothing that’s going to help it. So we like to use a ¼-inch of pitch per linear foot. So if your patio is 12 feet wide, it would have 3 inches of pitch from a high point to a low point, to allow the water to run off.

    LESLIE: And what can you do to protect your paver patio success, because now you’ve done it right, from getting weed growth through it or any insects?

    ROGER: There’s a product called polymeric sand, which we’re now using in all our patios. And it has a little bit of give to it so that it’ll move a little bit with a brick.

    TOM: OK.

    ROGER: It doesn’t let water go in between the joints, it doesn’t let soil go in. And no weeds and very little insects will bother it at all.

    LESLIE: So that’s your last step; that’s not the sand you’re using in the construction process for the base.

    ROGER: No. This is after you get the whole patio laid. You sweep in this and then you water it into the joints. And it works really, really well when you follow the directions on the bag.

    TOM: And if you do get the occasional weed that comes up, is Roundup an appropriate herbicide to use?

    ROGER: What I will tell everyone is if there’s an organic option available, like vinegar, try that first.

    TOM: OK.

    ROGER: But before you put it on your patio, take a couple of bricks and spray it on there because sometimes it’ll discolor the brick.

    TOM: Just to make sure. Yeah. Great advice. And I will tell you this – don’t ask me how I know – when you do spray it, make sure it’s not a windy day.

    ROGER: Yeah. How’d your other plants do?

    TOM: Exactly.

    ROGER: Yeah.

    TOM: A little strip of bare grass – (inaudible at 0:26:08) grass – right next to the patio.

    ROGER: Well, that’s a good point. People will have to remember that these weed killers kill indiscriminately.

    TOM: Yeah.

    ROGER: So if you get it on your grass, you get it on your groundcover or even your shrubs, it’ll do damage.

    TOM: Yeah. A little trick of the trade is to take a milk bottle, cut the bottom out and then cover the weed and spray through the top of the milk bottle so it kind of contains it.

    ROGER: What we’ll do is we’ll take and slice a funnel and put it over the end of the nozzle, so you just put that over the plant.

    TOM: Right. Yep. Oh, right down on top.

    ROGER: Yeah. And spray. Yep.

    TOM: Yeah, that makes sense, too. Great trick. That’s why I love having you on the show, Roger. You’re always full of lots of knowledge, lots of tricks of the trade earned through many, many years in the business. Thank you so much.

    ROGER: Too many.

    TOM: Too many. It seems that way. But I tell you what, there’s always something new for us to learn. Thank you so much, Roger. We really appreciate it.

    ROGER: It’s been my pleasure.

    LESLIE: Catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For local listings and step-by-step videos of many common home improvement projects, visit ThisOldHouse.com.

    TOM: And This Old House is brought to you by The Home Depot. The Home Depot, more saving, more doing.

    LESLIE: Alright. Do you hate cleaning the house? Well, unfortunately, it’s that time of year where cleaning is just supposed to be the top priority of your to-do list. So, I guess we’ve got to help you out there. Up ahead, we’re going to give you some quick tips – I like that – to help you with your spring cleaning so you’re not spring-cleaning until summer. So stick around.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Lutron’s new Maestro Occupancy-Sensing Switch. Never ask “Who left the lights on?” again. Starting at around $20, this motion-sensing light switch turns the lights on automatically when you walk into a room and off when you leave and works with all types of light bulbs. Learn more at LutronSensors.com.

    TOM: Where home solutions live, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And the number here is 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Now, one of you lucky callers who gets on the air with us today is going to win a Symphony All-in-One Vacuum and Steam Mop from Bissell. And it’s really super-cool because this is two products in one.

    Now, the Symphony is going to vacuum and steam at the same exact time. And it’s got powerful, cyclonic action, which is going to suck up any dry debris that could be caked in the floor like, say, maybe baby cereal or some squished-up food. Not saying how it got there. Maybe I’m just messy. It’s just what happens.

    And really, what’s awesome is as it’s cleaning, the steam heat is going to eliminate up to 99.9 percent of germs and bacteria. So if you’ve got little guys at home like I do and they’re constantly on the floor, that really just will give you some peace of mind.

    TOM: Plus, it only weighs about 10½ pounds, so it’s easy to take from room to room. It’s worth $219 and it goes out to one caller we talk to on the air today. So what are you waiting for? The number, again, is 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Well, have you been feeling the itch to give your house that really good once-over cleaning that comes with springtime? Well, it’s time. We’ve got some do’s and don’ts, though, to make that go a bit more smoothly.

    LESLIE: That’s right. First, you’ve got that often-overlooked upholstery. Now, you can go ahead and rent an upholstery-cleaning machine. But don’t do anything before you test a small patch of that fabric to make sure that you don’t get any surprises like, you know, discoloration or something weird happens with the texture.

    Now, for your pillows, most of them have slipcovers that can be removed and then you can either have them dry-cleaned or machine-washed. But you want to make sure that you clean them in the way that whatever your furniture manufacturer would recommend so you don’t ruin it that way.

    TOM: Now, cleaning your windows is a rite of passage when it comes to spring but here’s a trick: don’t clean them when the sun is shining through them. Why? Because as the windows heat up, the sun will cause the cleaner to evaporate very quickly, which will leave streaks and a very dull residue. So, wait until the sun is maybe on the other side of the house and tackle the windows on the shady side first.

    Now, for ceiling fans, you want to dust them and wash them. But this is important: after you wash the blades, don’t forget to dry them because the wet blades will attract dust very, very quickly.

    LESLIE: Alright. If you’re looking for some more quick spring-cleaning tips, you can check out MoneyPit.com and you can search “quick spring-cleaning tips” there. And we’ll take you to a whole bunch of little checklists and articles that will help you make sure that you get your money pit in tip-top shape without wasting the entire spring we’ve waited so desperately for.

    TOM: Pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Joe in California is on the line with a leaky chimney. Tell us what’s going on.

    JOE: Well, it’s an old one from the 60s, I believe, but it was beautifully built. It’s 15 foot wide and 2 stories up and I’m on the second story. But the water is going through the mortar coming in and it’s terrible. It’s like a waterfall in the wintertime.

    TOM: So, you say that water is coming through the mortar. Do you know for a fact that it’s coming through in a particular place? Because, generally, when chimneys leak, there’s two areas that we concentrate on. The first is the very top of the chimney. And if it’s a masonry chimney, you probably have a clay flue liner. Is that correct?

    JOE: Yes, it is.

    TOM: Alright. And then so the space between the clay flue liner and the outside edge of the brick chimney, that has to have a concrete cap on it. And that should be sloped away from the flue liner to the outside edge. It can’t have any cracks or holes or gaps in it. And very often, you have to caulk it, if that does develop, around the flue liner, as well as through the cracks.

    The second place that chimneys typically leak is at their intersection with roofs. And unfortunately, roofers have almost universally lost the skill set that would have enabled them to be able to flash this joint properly between the chimney and the roof. Because the proper way to do this is with a two-piece flashing system where you have a base flashing that goes underneath the roof shingle and up against the side of the chimney. Then counter flashing, which is carved into the mortar joint, folds over the outside edge of the chimney and also over the base flashing.

    And the reason that sort of two-piece design is important is because chimneys are always moving and roofs are always moving and they don’t move together. And so, this is sort of a slip joint, so to speak, where they can actually move and shift with the wind and the heat and the rain and the expansion and contraction without actually breaking down.

    So, I would look at those two areas. And then I’ll just give you one other tip. If you have a roof where there’s a lot of water running down before it hits the base of the chimney, in a situation like that, what you want to do is put a diverter on the roof, midway, to kind of short-circuit some of the water that’s running down towards the chimney and run it around the chimney. And that will just simply reduce the volume of water that’s getting in there and potentially leaking through into your house.

    JOE: This has got a flat, metal top over the top of the chimney that mostly keeps the rain from coming down the chimney but I haven’t really looked at the flue liner up there. That’s a good point.

    TOM: Yep. Take a careful look, Joe, OK?

    JOE: OK. Alrighty. Thank you very much.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, we’re going to talk about radon. Now, if you’re not familiar with radon, it’s a colorless, odorless gas that can cause lung cancer. But how do you know if your home is vulnerable? Well, we’re going to tell you, after this.

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    TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air, online, MoneyPit.com. The number, again, 1-888-MONEY-PIT. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And hey, are you ready to take on spring cleaning? Well, arm yourself with the right supplies.

    We’re going to give away three Home Depot gift cards to help you get started in our Spring Fling Pin to Win Sweepstakes on our Facebook page at MoneyPit.com. You can click through right there.

    LESLIE: Now, when you go to our Facebook page at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit, you’ve got to pin at least one of our four spring-cleaning articles to your Pinterest page. And then you can share the sweepstakes with your friends and get even more chances to win. Those gift cards are just a super-helper for all of your spring to-do projects. So, definitely get in on it and get cleaning and then get pinning.

    And while you’re online, you can post a question in our Community section, just like Tammy in Texas did. And Tammy wrote: “A house I was looking at had a radon vent installed. A pipe came up from under the house but was vented into the attic space, not to the outside. Is that safe?”

    TOM: Well, here’s the situation, Tammy. Many times when new homes are built, the builders will rough-in the radon-venting system. Now, they don’t necessarily hook it up to an actual radon-venting fan but they rough-in the plumbing and that’s what it sounds like you have discovered in this home.

    What I would do is two things. First of all, I would order a radon test. Now, you can buy charcoal adsorption canisters online and do your own test. If your reading comes in above 4 picocuries, which is 4 picocuries per liter of air, then you’re going to consider bringing in a radon-mitigation company to hook up a fan to that piping system, test it, make sure it’s working correctly and get that radon out. If it comes in under, then you have no worries; there’s no need for that pipe.

    But builders put it in because in some areas of the country, where radon levels are elevated, they’re required by law to put in – to rough-in – the radon-mitigation systems. So it sounds to me that’s exactly what you have and I would definitely get a radon test, though, because radon comes from the ground and it’s a gas that has been associated with causing lung cancer.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Especially if you spend a lot of time in your below-grade spaces.

    Alright. Jamie in Pennsylvania posted: “Last summer, I plugged a bunch of holes around my basement thinking that would keep the mice from coming in from a field this winter. It didn’t work. In some cases, it looked like they chewed through plywood. Is there anything mice can’t chew through?”

    TOM: Well, look, certainly, what we usually recommend with those holes is not plywood but steel wool. They seem to have a hard time getting through steel wool. But look, there’s a bunch of things that you can do to reduce the propensity for rodents in your house. It starts inside with a good, clean house, of course. It also starts with a careful, watchful eye over anything that mice can eat inside your house.

    So, what’s something that you could commonly overlook? Pet food, for example. We have these big pet-food bags, right? Well, people leave those where? In the garage sometimes or a place like that. I mean that’s a smorgasbord for rodents. So, be mindful of any types of dry cereals, pet foods; anything like that should be in a sealed container and hopefully a metal container.

    Around the outside of your house, you want to pull all the nesting areas away, keep the trash cans away, the firewood away, the overgrowth away. And then inside, put down rodenticides. Put them down behind the range, put them down in the basement, put them in the crawlspace.

    And really, it’s a management issue. If you do all that, you shouldn’t have problems with field mice.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Because, Jamie, you know what? You get some mice in the house, it gets pretty disgusting and then everybody starts freaking out. So, really, just stay tidy. Nobody is calling you a messy person. Just stay one step ahead and keep those mice out.

    TOM: You’ve been listening to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. If we did not get to your question today, we apologize. But guess what? You can pick up the phone and call us, 24-7, at 888-MONEY-PIT. And if we’re not in the studio, we’ll call you back the next time we are.

    I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

    LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.


    (Copyright 2014 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)

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